One of the most inspirational and rewarding moments I’ve ever had when meeting with students was the day I showed a class of first grade students how important their imagination is. After reading a Hamilton Troll Book to this group of students we started talking about what it’s like to be an author – to write. I expressed to them that it’s the same as story telling and then we proceeded to create our own story.
I always like to start with super powers…
I asked the group if they had a super power what would it be? Everyone knows what super powers are, and everyone wants them. Every hand raised. The first one was to be able to fly. I continued.
If you could fly, where would you go?
This immediately opens the doors to any imaginable place. Most every hand raised again. The first answer from was to go to Africa. Cool I said. What would you see in Africa? Hands raised and the answer Lions came out.
Wonderful! What would that lion be doing? He’s hungry. He wants food. Great I exclaimed. What is he going to eat?
Silence. No hands…
I realized that these amazing first grade students couldn’t think of the correct answer as to what Lions eat. They’ve been taught to only have the correct answer. They weren’t sure so the story had come to an abrupt stop. I had to do something – fast! McDonald’s! I said.
Lions don’t eat McDonald’s, came many responses. That’s when I smiled brightly…
This is YOUR story –
ANYTHING can happen in YOUR story.
Suddenly three dozen little lights turned on in these first graders heads. Their eyes widened as they all began to realize the absolute joy and fun it is to be a fiction writer. I gave them all a moment as some began to converse amongst themselves and then I threw out the next question.
The lion has just entered the McDonald’s. What’s going to happen?
- He’s going to eat all the french fries.
- He’s going to scare off the people.
- He’s going to play on the playground.
- He’s going to eat the cooks.
The crowd burst with ideas. This lion story was taking off. And as the roar of suggestions lifted into the room, the teachers had to get the students to settle down. Once the hush had taken over I ended my lesson with these words.
Every mind is unique. Every story can take a different direction. We can all start in one place with the same situation and as we write our story there is no limit to the places we can see, the things we can do, or the people we can become.
This is my message to everyone reading this today. Whether writing a story or living our lives, it only takes imagination and the fortitude to follow our dreams. It may be a long and difficult journey but every great book (or life) takes time and effort.